Niv Assaraf
Niv AssarafFacebook

Police have asked to extend the arrest of 22-year-old Niv Assaraf Be’er Sheva and his friend; Assaraf was found in a massive search effort on Thursday near Hevron after staging his abduction as a prank.

IDF Spokesperson Motti Almoz told Channel 2 on Friday morning that hundreds of IDF soldiers were unable to return home due to the stunt, which cost the IDF "hundreds of thousands of shekels."

He noted that Assaraf, who was found with a sleeping bag and non-perishable food items near Kiryat Arba, "said he was looking for attention, they were looking for attention."

Assaraf's friend falsely reported that that he had entered the hostile Arab village of Beit Anoun and never came back.

"The way that they looked to get attention was to send out thousands of soldiers, officers and Shabak (Israel Security Agency - ed.) members - that's a massive effort, several nerve-wracking hours," said Almoz.

Assaraf's attention-grabbing stunt came from romantic motivations, after he broke up with his girlfriend several days before the incident.

Speaking about the lessons from the incident, Almoz added that while some of the soldiers encountered Arab villagers hurling rocks at them, "there wasn't strong 'friction' in the villages."

The incident "doesn't change anything in our viewpoint - our obligation is to get to the person when there's an event like this, and afterwards to settle accounts with them. I expect we will bring him to justice, I think we need to deal with them."

"Waste of massive resources"

Housing Minister Uri Ariel commented on the incident on Friday morning, calling for Assaraf to be brought to justice.

"I am shocked by a reality in which youths consider conducting a prank of the sort that it became clear the two youths committed yesterday," Ariel wrote on Facebook.

The minister emphasized that by making the false report to police, Assaraf and his friend wasted "massive resources," and directly harmed the security of Israel "when they caused large forces to stop dealing with ongoing security missions."

"I expect that the law enforcement forces will bring them to full justice, and that they will receive the most severe punishment," said Ariel.

"I want to send wishes for a happy and kosher Pesach (Passover - ed.) holiday, along with much respect to the security forces who worked throughout the incident with professionalism worthy of commendation," concluded the minister.